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1st Amendment is no defense for man facing 13 years in jail for washable chalk messages

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A 40-year-old San Diego man faces up to 13 years in jail after scrawling anti-big bank messages in washable chalk outside Bank of America branches last year, and a judge said the First Amendment is no defense.

Superior Court Judge Howard M. Shore ruled that the First Amendment cannot be referenced in the case against Jeff Olson, who is being charged with 13 counts of vandalism carrying fines of up to $13,000.

Mr. Olson's attorney is banned from "mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial," the San Diego Reader reported Tuesday.

"Oh my gosh," the defendant said on his way out of court on Tuesday. "I can't believe this is happening."

In an interview with San Diego's KGTV, Mr. Olson said he "was encouraging folks to close their accounts at big Wall Street banks to transfer their money to local nonprofit, community credit unions."

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